The 4Runner is the oldest vehicle in the Toyota stable. Introduced in 1984, it has been sold in this current iteration since 2010, changing very little in more than a decade.
The truck-like 4Runner is thirsty, unrefined and has an outdated powertrain. Consumers in the market for a mid-size ute will be better off with any number of more efficient, more comfortable vehicle, including several from the same Toyota showroom.
Shoppers interested in ruggedness, true off-road capability, and time-tested reliability would be hard pressed to find anything better than the 2022 Toyota 4Runner.
An old-fashioned but rugged body-on-ladder-frame structure is mounted on a solid rear axle and combined with a suspension developed specifically for challenging off-road situations.
A stout but gruff 4.0-litre V6 engine is mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
Power goes to all four wheels through an on-demand 4WD system. Other off-road creds include active traction control, hill start assist and downhill assist.
The tall and boxy shape, dated drivetrain and 4,800 pound weight result in some pretty miserable fuel economy. I blanched when the pump passed the $110 mark on a fill-up of regular unleaded. I should have expected it with winter-condition highway mileage of 13.8 litres/100 km! That same combination of factors leads to leisurely acceleration and lots of body roll in the corners.
But the Toyota 4Runner is not a vehicle with any sporty pretensions, despite that it came in TRD Sport trim.
The 4.0-litre V6 produces 270-horsepower and 278 lb.ft. of torque. Power delivery is linear and the engine quiet under all but sustained full-throttle conditions. The tester had what Toyota calls x-REAS Sport Suspension. The shock absorbers are cross-linked, like an X, to reduce the pitch and yaw under uneven conditions.
The system automatically adjusts the damping of the shocks depending on the surface. This pays off not only in rugged off-road conditions but on the open highway as well.
4Runners feature power windows and locks, roof rails, dynamic radar cruise control, push button start, 20-in alloy wheels, windshield wiper de-icer, eight-way power driver’s seat, four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, tilt & telescope leather steering wheel, power tailgate window and LED headlights – low beam only.
2022 Toyota 4Runner – a pleasant highway cruiser with lots of space and the feeling that it will last forever
It is a pleasant highway cruiser with a whole lot of comfortable space for people in both first and second row seats thanks to the tall and boxy shape. The cargo area is spacious but the load floor is high off the ground.
There are plenty of cubbyholes and storage spots throughout. It is a major step up to get into the vehicle, but once inside there is great visibility in all directions despite the high beltline.
The driver faces a rudimentary set of instruments and there is plenty of black hard plastic and other low-rent materials. But you get the impression everything will wear and work for decades.
The infotainment system includes a 20-centimetre touchscreen and connectivity for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Thankfully, there are large buttons and good old-fashioned rotary knobs for volume and tuning – easy to use with gloves on.
I did not attempt to tackle any serious off-road conditions, but previous experience in a same-gen 4Runner had proven that ability. In extreme conditions, the 4Runner has your back.
Five-seat 4Runners come in four trim levels — Trail, TRD Off-Road, TRD Sport and TRD Pro at prices ranging from $47,250 to $65,250. Two three-row models are also available SR5 ($50,270), and Limited ($57,630).
The 4Runner falls short in many areas when compared to current and conventional crossovers with similar exterior dimensions and interior accommodations. The engine and transmission are outdated and this is one thirsty beast!
But should your needs include the need to venture well off the beaten path, generous clearance, underbody skid plates and the availability of low range, the Toyota 4Runner will leave the others in the dust – or mud.
FACTS & FIGURES – 2022 Toyota 4Runner SR5 TRD Sport
As tested: $55,801 including freight
Automatic high beams, lane departure alert, pre-collision system, LED low beam headlights
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 20-cm touch screen, wireless capability
Dynamic radar cruise control, power windows & locks, push button start, 20-in alloy wheels, windshield wiper de-icer, eight-way power driver’s seat, four-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, tilt & telescope leather steering wheel, power tailgate window
TRD Sport Package ( Softex seats, Smart key system, 10-6-cm full colour MID in gauge cluster, SiriusXM® with 3-month trial, Audio Plus with remote services, dual zone automatic climate control, garage door opener, power sunroof.) $3,210
4.0-litre V6, 270 horsepower, 278 lb.-ft. of torque, regular fuel, five-speed automatic transmission, part-time four-wheel-drive. NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway): 14.8/12.5
Length, 4,829 mm; width, 1,926 mm; wheelbase, 2,789 mm; weight, 2,121 kg